The Fatherhood Mystery Part 1

Circa 1979
Re-blogging from last year.  This story is just that good.  Thanks again HX!
Father's are a mystery to me.  

A few nights ago I met HX from Working Towards Healing.  Enthralled by our conversation about her Dad, I found myself actually taking notes in my little orange journal.  Like a complete nerd, mid-conversation I jumped up and said, "Wait, wait I have to write this stuff down."  Then scrambled to find my too short, too dull #2 pencil and scribbled every word that spilled from her lips.  

I was fascinated.  

Her words coaxed tears from my eyes and laughter from my belly, but most of all, I was inspired to act.  I went home and have been practicing HX's Daddy-isms ever since.  Even though I am not a father, I have found value in translating his ideas into my own.  Take note Mr. Scabs.

Lucky for us, she has agreed to share all the fabulous secrets of her father's greatness here. 
Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

My Dad is the builder and architect 
of my self esteem
by HX

Remember the, "Who is your hero?" mini-essays you'd write in third grade?  Mine were always about my Dad.  God sent my Dad five daughters because this man knew how to raise daughters.  He knew who they were and what they were capable of.   

My Dad is far from perfect.  He has a temper and is fairly selfish by nature.  He wasn't the model "father" I heard about in Sunday School.  He didn't call the family together for prayer.  In fact, my Mom stopped trying because he'd get us so giggly kneeling around their bed that it wasn't worth the fight.  He wasn't active in our faith.  He went to church to be with us.  He would go anywhere with his family . . . even if it was a boring waste of three hours.  

His fondest church memory was when he took my baby sister out of Sacrament Meeting, went outside and played on the grass.  It was a warm spring morning and they fell asleep cuddled in the grass, not waking until the congregation came filing out. 

 My Dad never put up the 'perfect' front.  This made all the difference for me.  

He was so honest and forthright about his flaws and never tried to convince us that he had all the answers.

We brought our arguments to him about why some punishment wasn't fair or why we should get a allowance raise.  We never 'ruled the roost', my parents were unequivocally in charge.  

But , we did feel like we had influence on, and responsibility to, how our household functioned.  

He had a knack for storytelling and told us about the stupid mistakes he made as a kid and teenager.  

He shared his doubts and weaknesses, and challenged us to find our own answers in life.  

He admitted his more selfish instincts.  My Mom was so completely charitable and kind to others, this was one of the things he'd found so attractive in her.  

I didn't realize that my Dad was selfish, or shy, because around us he was gregarious and fun.  He gave us everything.  He worked 80 hour weeks to provide for our family and spent every spare minute with us kids.  I never saw anything selfish about him.  

In my teens, I realized my Dad's difficulty in giving time, attention, money or possessions to anyone not in his family.  He looked to my Mom and us daughters for guidance. 

He tells me how proud he is to be part of raising daughters who are better than him.

My Dad had a parenting theory, if each generation raised up another generation a little better, a little kinder, a little smarter and a little more successful, than the world would be an amazing place.  He wanted each kid to take the best they could learn from their parents and become something better.  

He often told us how proud he was that we were the fulfillment of his parenting dream.  

When I was 7 or 8, he'd tell me all the positive traits he admired and how proud he was when I worked on my negative ones.  I felt like a success in life, with limitless potential, for as long as I can remember.  These weren't just platitudes tossed my way, building up a superficial facade of self-esteem -- 

but a real recognition and discussion of my strengths, weaknesses, personality and potential.

My Dad taught us we were capable.  He can build or repair anything and whether he was changing the oil or building a four car garage, you'd find him with a few of his girls.   We were involved in every project, we got our hands dirty.  I remember drawing up the blueprints for my new bedroom he added to the house when I was 16.  

I loved working on projects with my Dad.  

He answered our questions, considered our suggestions and used the time to tell us all his theories in life and hear all about ours.  He'd talk about our strengths and aspirations.  

We'd talk about education and where we wanted to end up in life. He told us how smart and capable we were and he'd challenge our young brains with conversation, bits of trivia, riddles and story problems.  There were few things I learned in school that he hadn't already taught me.  There were never 'girl/boy' skills, jobs, chores or talents.  We were expected to do well in whatever we set our minds too.

My Dad believes in natural consequences. Er, semi-natural consequences.  

You didn't get your laundry put away? 
Then it might just be scattered out on the front lawn when you got off the bus after school.  

Didn't take the trash out after being asked?
It would end up being dumped out on your bed.  

Didn't get your school bag out of the entry way?
It may just end up on the roof of the house. 

If you were making life any harder on Mom, Dad found fun and creative ways to assure you'd think twice before doing it again.  He loved to help us clean our rooms.  If Mom had ask too many times, he would carefully dump everything we owned right in the middle of our room and we'd start sorting and putting things away.  It was at this point he got bored of 'helping' and would wander off to get a bowl of ice cream.  It took hours to get everything put back where it belonged.  Our rooms were never cleaner or more organized and we followed through next time Mom asked.

We had a big 130 lb. rottweiler mix and one day he had accidentally been locked inside all day.  The dog snuck down into the darkest recesses of our basement in desperate need of, um, doing his business.  That deep, dark corner just happened to be my sister's room. The day before, my sister had found the bathroom trash, full of bloody pads and other such teenage trash, dumped on her bed after not taking it out for the third day in a row!  This day, she walked into her room to find a giant pile of crap!  

She stormed up the upstairs, marched up to my Dad and said, 
"WHAT did I do now?! What could I possibly have done for this to be a reasonable consequence?!" 

The look of complete horror on her face was priceless!

Part 2 will be published tomorrow.

I can't wait to throw my daughters school bag on the roof!  I love these Daddy stories.  Honest, ridiculous and full of love.  How have you been influenced by fathers?  

I'm so thankful for all the good Dad's who are imperfect and wonderful.